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Driverless Cars Get Green Light for Testing on U.K. Roads in 2015

British officials have announced two official efforts to jump-start driverless vehicle testing and regulations in their country. Tests set to last several years are expected to start in January, at up to three locations in the U.K.; locations will also share a £10 million (about $17 million) prize. "This competition for funding has the potential to establish the U.K. as the global hub for the development and testing of driverless vehicles in real-world urban environments," explained Iain Gray, CEO of the country's Technology Strategy Board, in a post describing the new measures.

The ministers of Science and Technology also explained that reviews would be established to remove "regulatory obstacles" and make sure autonomous vehicles are properly licensed, marked and equipped. "Today's announcement will see driverless cars take to our streets in less than six months," said Business Secretary Vince Cable, "putting us at the forefront of this transformational technology and opening up new opportunities for our economy and society." Driverless-car research is also underway at facilities in California, Nevada, Michigan and many other places. Google recently presented a prototype of its driverless vehicle that doesn't have a steering wheel or pedals.

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— Devin Coldewey, NBC News